In-form pace bowler Tim Southee is confident a bit of application at the batting crease will help New Zealand bounce back from a heavy Test cricket defeat to Sri Lanka.

Southee says it's not a case of New Zealand being unable to compete with their hosts, for whom spin whizz Rangana Herath was chief tormenter in the opening match of the two-Test series.

"It's just that we've had a bad session, or a really bad session, that's cost us a Test match," he said.

"We just need a couple of guys to get in. It's a lot easier to face spinners once you've been out in the middle for while, but no one has applied themselves for long enough to get on top of them.

"If we can do that, there's no reason why we can't put a big score on the board."

The Black Caps head into the second and final Test beginning in Colombo on Sunday after a 10-wicket loss inside three days in Galle.

Left-armer Herath finished the match with 11 wickets, as New Zealand could muster scores of just 221 and 118 on their way to their fifth successive Test defeat.

Southee said the Black Caps' preparations this week had included facing plenty of spin in practice, with there being no shortage of net bowlers available.

"We've trained well in the last couple of days," he said.

"Hopefully, we can take that out to the middle, along with some confidence, and show what we're actually capable of."

Southee has been in fine form with the ball and had New Zealand's best figures of 4-46 in Sri Lanka's first innings of 247.

But the 23-year-old, who picked up a minor injury, didn't bowl in the second innings as the home side comfortably chased down a meagre target of 93.

"Because we were only defending about 100, there was no point in going out and wrecking it and being unavailable for the second Test."

NZ Newswire